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Why saying ‘he’s in a better place’ can be a dangerous phrase

grief, in a better place

I made a pledge when Charles died by suicide not to nitpick what people said to me after his death. After all, it is so hard to know what to say. I was overjoyed if someone said anything at all.

To be honest, the worst thing you can say is nothing at all. So don’t fret if you have used the “better place” expression.

Here is my issue with it

When we say “better place” we could potentially be glorifying heaven as a destination. Basically you could be promoting an early exit since you are implying the place after death is “better” than where we are now. And we don’t want to promote suicide.

If it was for sure that great, why aren’t we all shooting ourselves to get there faster? That’s a blunt way of putting it but perhaps you see the irony of it that way.

To me, there is no better place for my child than right here on earth with me. At my table at Thanksgiving, in my home celebrating his birthday with a poorly decorated cake made by me.

So while I will never ever hold it against you, the “better place” phrase is not my favorite. And from conversations of other mothers in this club, it’s not their fave either. In fact some tell me it makes them cringe.

Personally, I still have a lot of things to accomplish here on earth. So heaven will have to wait no matter how glorious it is.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

4 thoughts on “Why saying ‘he’s in a better place’ can be a dangerous phrase”

  1. It makes sense you might not want to here this. But your athiesm gives you no right to take the only hope people have away from them. Do you think they have never lost someone, we all have. They are not being dismissive, they are trying to direct you to hope. False maybe, but reality is that life is brief and brutish, nothing gives you the right to correct anyone on what they believe.

    Sorry your request is ridiculous, if someone believes that heaven is real, you cannot ask them not to sharing their faith. As an intelligent person you are not untitled to tell them this. it might be the opiot if the people, but if not for such faith suicide would be far more common. People that believe in heaven, have problems just as big as yours, and you want to take away their hope. And BTW, basically every variation if religion believes that a person who commits suicide for reasons other then mental desease, is not in a better place. They are not only trying to encouraging suicide, they are doing the only thing that someone who believes could do.

    I beg you to reconsider this course, it is self centered and evil. You need to find I way to tolerate that some people prefer to believe there is a greater meaning, and if they believe it conforts them. What kind of horrible people would they be not to share maybe someone who think the works revolves around only them, remind you of anyone in the mirror.

    1. You are talking from another point of view and that’s always welcome here. I like and appreciate comments from others.

      Many of us who’ve lost a child feel this is a cruel comment.

      I decided early on to take anything someone said as coming from a place of love and therefore didn’t get angry any more. That help d me tremendously. And by the way I am not atheist.

      Thank you for commenting

  2. I agree. It feels too dismissive of the pain you are feeling almost as if to imply you should be glad. Mercy for ones that don’t know what to say.

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